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Cold, Flu, or Pnemonia?

Cold, Flu, or Pnemonia?

Symptoms of colds, flu, and pnemonia can be similar. It is important to know the differnence so that you can get well as soon as possible, and avoid possible complications or extending the illness for a longer period of time. So, how can you tell the difference?

  • Symptoms develop slowly
  • Coughing, sneezing    
  • Sinus pain
  • Sore throat
  • Mild body aches
  • Symptoms subside within 4-9 days
  • Generally less severe than the flu
  • Can be treated with over-the-counter medications
  • Best remedies are rest and lots of fluids.
  • Contact your doctor if your cold persists for more than a week, if your cough suddenly worsens, or you develop a fever.
  • Colds are caused by viruses.  Antibiotics are not used to treat viruses/colds. 


  • Symptoms usually develop suddenly
  • Sudden high fever (above 100.40)
  • Significant body aches
  • Headaches
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Mild cough, mild sore throat
  • Symptoms subside in 2-5 days, although respiratory symptoms such as dry cough and sore throat can last 2 weeks.
  • Rest, drink lots of fluids, take over-the-counter medication for fever and body aches
  • Prescription anti-virals (such as Tamiflu) may help you recover more quickly.  It is reported that anti-virals (Tamiflu and/ or Relenza) are most effective if taken within 48 hours of the first symptoms.
  • Stay home until you have been without a fever for 24 hours.


  • Symptoms usually start faster a little faster than cold symptoms, but slower than flu symptoms
  • Viral pneumonia-deterioration over the course of 12-36 hours
  • Bacterial pneumonia-happens when bacteria invades lungs that are weakened by a cold or flu.
  • Shortness of breath is a common symptom
  • Sharp or stabbing pain with inhalation
  • Fever
  • headache
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased breathing and heart rate
  • Blueness around the mouth and lips
  • Patients with pneumonia ALWAYS need to see a doctor for treatment
  • When being treated for pneumonia, it is vital for patients to complete the course of medication prescribed by their doctor.  Not completing all prescribed medications may result in relapse. 

When in doubt about your symptoms, schedule an appointment at Health Services. Nurses are available 7:00-4:30p every weekday and doctors are available weekday mornings. Scheduling an appointment is recommended, but not required. Services provided are covered by the student health fee that you pay each semester.